Welcome to the first office Project “12” blog entry! I am a Program Manager in the Microsoft Office Project team and will be coordinating this blog as a space for the entire product team in Project to communicate with anyone who is interested in Project.
We are going to focus our blog discussions on the new version of Project, currently code named Project “12”. Our goal is to be able to share what’s new in Project “12” and hear your feedback and questions. There will a new posting at least once a week but I’ll try to regularly respond to comments and questions.
I would like to get started by telling you how amazing the Project Conference 2006 was! For those who are not familiar with the conference, it is an annual event where we hold multiple sessions discussing how to solve some project management challenges using Project. This year, we also had a number of partners presenting on their solutions as well as best practices. It was the biggest conference ever for Project with about 1,600 attendees!
Project “12” has some incredible areas of improvements in both the client as well as in the server. I hope to, over time, have some in depths discussions on separate features. For now, I would like to highlight a couple of client features that received a lot of applauses or “Oh my God” reactions from the conference:
Multiple Levels of Undo: There was a post from Dieter’s Project blog about this feature. As he explained, it was an incredibly hard to implement feature but amazingly rewarding to see customers reaction! Project “12” will support multiple level of undo but we have gone beyond that and also support custom batching of VB code. What that means is that you can wrap any VB code with new functions that will become an undoable action. This is great if you have custom Add Ins or have extended applications running with Project.
Task Drivers: Many of our customers had some problems finding out what happened to the schedule, so Project “12” has this new feature called Task Drives. A common question you may have when looking at your project schedule would be “why has a task moved to a certain date?” Now, you are able to select that task and see what is driving that task to be at the state it’s currently in.
There is a very long list of really great client and server features in Project “12” but this is just to get us started.
Dieter, the former Project Group Program Manager, has a Project blog containing a lot of great posts on new features as well as the conference. I highly recommend it if you would like to get more information now: http://blogs.msdn.com/dieterz/. Mostly, new posts will be added to this blog.
Hopefully we’ll be able to build a good community on this blog.
For our first feature discussion, I will introduce you to Project “12” Cube Building Services that represent a part of our offerings for Enterprise Project Management Reporting. It also happens to be the feature I own, so I am very excited to share with you the work we have done.
Project Server 2003 ships a foundation to enterprise reporting and data analysis with the Portfolio Analyzer cube. In Project Server “12” we have expanded the idea to offer a rich set of data ready to consume, out of the box. The Cube Building Services offers an environment to truly provide business intelligence and insight to businesses using Project.
We have increased the number of cubes offered to 11 cubes and 3 virtual cubes. The cubes are built using the Project Server “12” Reporting infrastructure. This infrastructure includes a dedicated Reporting SQL database that contains all Project Server “12” data that has been published. This data is incrementally update at real time as data gets published, tremendously improving the performance for the cubes as well.
The list of cubes offered are the following (this may be subject to change):
1. Project Non Timephased
2. Task Non Timephased
3. Assignment Non Timephased
4. Assignment Timephased
5. Resource Non Timephased
6. Resource Timephased
7. EPM Timesheet
The virtual cubes offered are the following (also subject to change):
1. Portfolio Analyzer – backwards compatible with Project Server 2003
2. Project Timesheet
3. Project WSS
During the Project Conference, one of the top questions I was asked regarding the cube schema was whether the Time dimension has a Week level and the answer is YES! In addition to the Time dimension, we’ll also offer a Fiscal Time dimension that will map to fiscal periods defined in the Project Server though it will not follow the traditional Time dimension hierarchy (Year > Quarter > Month…).
The Cube Building Services in the Project Web Access interface provides a very centralized set of cube administrator pages.
Cube Building Settings
Similarly to Project Server 2003, this page helps administrator setup the cube builds and define the cube settings:
· Analysis Services server name
· Data range to be included on the cubes
· Frequency to which the cubes should be updated
The Cube Building Services in Project Server “12” has an easy to use interface to allow customization of the cubes by using Enterprise Custom Fields. For example, you can add Location custom field to your Assignment Timephased cube as a dimension. That would allow you to analyze Actual Cost sliced on Location over a period of time. This is very simple example, but you can get the idea of the powerful analysis you will be able to do with this.
We also offer an interface to add calculated members without having to write any custom code just the appropriate MDX formula. For example, for Profit, the formula would be something like [Revenue] – [Cost]
Once the customizations are save, they will be added to the cubes the next time the cube is built.
Cube Building Status
This page has been added to help administrators verify the status of the building process and troubleshoot if there are any errors, such as the Analysis Services server name is invalid.
Note: Project Server “12” also has an amazing Queue feature that allows great job management on the server side but I’ll save the details for a future post.
The Cube Building Services has been built primarily in Analysis Services 2000 though it successfully builds in Analysis Services 2005 as well. For those of you who did have a chance to use these cubes in the Beta 1 release, this was not working at that point but it has been fixed. We will also support mixed configurations, the final support configuration document has not yet been finalized but our test team has been making good progress validating many of the scenarios we want to support.
I would really like to hear how in depth you would like the topics to go into. I can really drill down on a few of them if there is interest. I will start new feature discussions with an overview post like this one to give you a background on the work done for the feature in P12.
Project Server 2007 is a major release that involves fundamental architectural changes. It is vital that you plan the migration carefully and meticulously - and we have a migration guide in Beta1 (and are planning on an updated one in Beta2) that would help you with that. We strongly encourage you to migrate your Project Server 2003 with the beta version for the migration utility and report issues if you have any.
Upgrade versus Migration
Upgrade is about changing your data in place (i.e. you have Project Server 2003, run upgrade and then you have Project Server 2007) and you can't go back to Project Server 2003. Migration is about taking data from Project Server 2003, fixing things up and then saving it to Project Server 2007. At the end of migration, you will have Project Server 2003 and Project Server 2007. Project Server 2003 to Project Server 2007 is a MIGRATION process, not UPGRADE!
Some more FAQs:
Q: Is cross language migration supported? That is, could I migrate from Project Server 2003 English to Project Server 2007 French?
A: Cross language migration is not supported. We only support migrating across the same language. But after migration, appropriate language packs may be applied on Project Server 2007 to get a similar effect.
Q: Can we consolidate data from multiple Project Server 2003 instances into one Project Server 2007 instance? That is, can I consolidate http://2003PWA/Dept1 and http://2003PWA/Dept2 into a single http://2007PWA/Single?
A: No, you can't do this as part of Project 2007 migration. If you have 2 Project Server 2003 instances, say http://2003PWA/Dept1 and http://2003PWA/Dept2, you need to migrate them to two separate Project Server 2007 instances (i.e. http://2007PWA/Dept1 and http://2007PWA/Dept2).
Q: I migrated a subset of projects to Project Server 2007. If there are users who are on Project Server 2003 projects AND Project Server 2007 projects, how do I manage Resource availability?
A: There is no easy answer to this. In the period when you are operating 2 servers - you won't get an updated resource availability view in either Project Server 2003 or Project Server 2007. So, we recommend that you don't have Project in a side-by-side state for an extended period of time. Alternatively you could build a custom solution that gets resource availability from the two systems and presents a unified view.
Q: Will "linked projects" and "master projects" get migrated?
A: Yes, they will be migrated.
Q: I have Project Server authenticated users in Project Server 2003. After migration, I find no way to login as those users. Did they get migrated?
A: Yes, they got migrated. But you need to setup forms authentication for Project Server 2007 to enable their login (Project Server 2007 relies on the SharePoint/ASP.NET forms authentication infrastructure).
Many of you know that we have acquired UMT (http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2005/dec05/12-15PortfolioManagementToolsPR.mspx). Many of the members of the UMT development team have moved out here to Redmond to join the Project team. It has been very exciting to welcome everyone as they arrive from Romania. We are really looking forward to the work we’ll be able to do together.
Since our team is growing, we have a number of new openings and an SDET Lead opening on the Project test team. If you're looking for a new opportunity, we're looking for several Software Design Engineers in Test.
Come join the Microsoft Office Project Team to help make Microsoft live Project Management, make global Fortune 500 companies rely on it, and make 100 million people love it.
Now is your chance to get in on the ground floor. We have a number of both senior and entry level openings on the team and are looking for the best and brightest. If you know Win32, C#, ASP.Net or other web-based technologies, if you're a team player, if you can rattle off the bugs you see in the software products you use, and want to do something about it.
Successful candidates will need to be well-rounded; both technically competent and a strong tester in their own right. The candidate will be a part of a highly trained team of application and server testers. Project or Portfolio Management skills are a plus. If you know what a work breakdown structure is, or have working knowledge of the PMBOK scheduling field definitions and want to explore a new opportunity, I'd like to talk with you.
If you have experience with software testing methodologies – If you understand and can describe in detail how to approach testing software at the unit, function, and feature level, if you can write test automation, if you can test a server technology and understand the complexities of server scalability, if you're always thinking of a better more efficient way to do what you do, I'd like to talk with you.
Our Test Manager, Andy Seres, has done an excellent job with our test team. We have a group of very talented people who are making a huge impact in marking Project "12" a very high quality product. If you are interested in applying feel free to send me a message and I'll get you in touch with him. Thanks!
A few days ago we have released the official names for the new version of Office: http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/default.mspx
Microsoft Office 2007 and therefore, Microsoft Office Project Server 2007, Microsoft Office Project Standard 2007, and Microsoft Office Project Professional 2007. The link above has all the information about the Office 2007 Suite packages as well as the pricing for all Office applications.
You can also find some short articles about the new user interface for the core Office applications and the new file formats. Project has decided to stay with the core user interface have shipped in the past (menus and toolbars), so most of the information on that will not impact Project users though it’s an interesting read for users of Word, Excel and Power Point.
It may take me a while to start referring to Project “12” as Project 2007, as we have been using the “12” codename for a while. They are both referring to the same product, so hopefully the transition won’t be too confusing.